NAIT hosts nearly 100 high school students for a day of skilled trades exploration

NAIT welcomed nearly 100 female high school students to Main Campus on Thursday, Nov. 24 for a day of exploring the potential of careers in the skilled trades.

Jill of All Trades is an annual event that began in 2014 at Conestoga College in Ontario. Conestoga recently received support from national sponsors Owens Corning and Home Depot to bring it to a variety of post-secondary institutes across Canada and NAIT is pleased to be part of the first group.

Young women in grades 10 to 12 from Edmonton and Northern Alberta attended NAIT’s inaugural event. Attendees participated in up to 3 hands-on workshops to experience trades of interest. The workshops also connected the high school students with mentors—many of whom are female—who helped the students develop a better understanding of the benefits of a career in the skilled trades. Mentors included NAIT staff, alumni and members of industry.

The day kicked off with several guest speakers before the students broke out into the workshops offered by NAIT’s School of Skilled Trades. Workshops included Plumber, Electrician, Welder, Millwork (Cabinetmaking) and Carpentry, Heavy Equipment Technician, Auto Body Technician, Machinist/Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Technician, Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning Refrigeration (HVACR) Technician, Ironworker, Carpenter, Insulator and Glazier.

A recent report by RBC indicates more than 700,000 skilled trade workers are set to retire, creating a shortfall of at least 10,000 workers. The report goes on to say that women continue to represent less than four percent of workers in the most in-demand trades. Jill of All Trades aims to help decrease the skilled trades shortfall by encouraging more women to pursue careers in the trades.

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Jill of All Trades at Centennial College

The Centennial College Jill of All Trades event is a special event dedicated to helping young women explore skilled trades as careers. The 2022 event saw 100 young women, in grades 7-12, come out to our Ashtonbee Campus to get hands-on experience with programs from our School of Transportation and School of Engineering Technology and Applied Science. They rolled up their sleeves, explored the facilities, applications, and equipment that Centennial students use to hone their skills while they learn. In this video, we speak to the team behind the event, and more importantly, talk to some of the students who took part.

Jill of All Trades introduces young women to skilled trades careers

Close to 240 young women in Grades 9 through 12 participated in Conestoga’s Jill of All Trades event on October 26, 2022 at the college’s Cambridge – Fountain Street campus. The event introduced young women to the opportunities of skilled trades careers.

Delivered through the School College Work Initiative and the college’s School of Trades & Apprenticeship, the event is designed to help girls better understand the potential of skilled trades careers. This year’s participants joined from 35 schools in 10 boards across southwestern Ontario. The event was supported by more than 260 volunteers, including industry partners, faculty and graduates. Students participated in a selection of 15 hands-on workshops led by mentors, including framing and insulation, welding, robotics, heavy equipment operator, and food processing.

“When I was your age, and before I was your age and after I was your age, there was no such thing as Jill of All Trades,” said Blue-Collar CEO Mandy Rennehan (Bear) to the girls in her keynote address. “This industry is full of so many opportunities and in between every single person in this room you are going to see a person that is your mentor.”

Founder of multi-million-dollar retail maintenance and construction company, Rennehan is a sought-after speaker, philanthropist, award-winning entrepreneur and trade-industry ambassador. She is a lead advisor in the federal government’s national campaign to encourage apprenticeships and promote the skilled trades, and has received numerous business awards, including Canada’s Most Admired CEO, the Toronto Region Board of Trade Business Leader of the Year Award, the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Momentum Award and a Top 25 Women of Influence Award, and is a five-time winner of Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100 Award from the Women’s Executive Network. Bear is the host, designer and contractor for HGTV’s renovation show, Trading Up with Mandy Rennehan.

“You’re in a position right now to be the next role models of not only the trade industry, but you will be the next role models on how women show the world how they treat other people,” Rennehan continued. “And with that type of leadership, things will continue to grow, just like they did for me.”

A growing skills gap has emerged as the demand to keep pace with population growth and changing workforce demographics increases. Reports indicate more than 700,000 skilled tradespeople are set to retire by 2028. Canada needs more than 167,000 new apprentices alone to keep pace. According to Statistics Canada, women account for roughly four per cent of workers in under-represented skilled trades occupations.

About Jill of All Trades Conestoga College

Conestoga is a leader in skilled trades training for women. Through gender-specific programming and mentoring opportunities, the college assists and encourages women to pursue careers in under-represented and non-traditional occupations. In addition to Jill of All Trades, the college offers the Women in Skilled Trades (WIST) certificate program, supporting women to prepare for careers within the construction sector as general carpenters with the basic skills required to secure a position as an apprentice.

In 2021, Conestoga received support from Owens Corning Foundation to expand the delivery of Jill of All Trades to more locations. The program is expected to deliver 123 events across North America over the next four years, including six this year at post-secondary institutions in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

Conestoga is a provincial leader in the delivery of trades and apprenticeship training to serve industry needs and growing communities. Comprehensive programming includes a wide range of programs that provide pathways to employment in skilled trades careers as well as pre-apprenticeship training and in-school training for apprentices. Visit the School of Trades & Apprenticeship for more information.

National Sponsorship – Jill of All Trades

Jill of All Trades 2022 is nationally sponsored by Owens Corning Foundation and Home Depot.

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RBC commits $3.5 million for programming at Waterloo Region universities, college

WATERLOO — The RBC Foundation has committed $3.5 million over the next five years to support students and future programming at the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College.

The collaboration is part of RBC Future Launch’s 10-year, $500 million commitment to helping Canadian youth prepare for the jobs of tomorrow. Graduates from these programs will have the capabilities to contribute to Canada’s skills revolution and be among the next generation of leaders in sustainability and the skilled trades industries.

The donation, announced Tuesday at the Perimeter Institute, will include $2 million to the University of Waterloo to help launch its new interdisciplinary degree program; the Bachelor of Sustainability and Finance Management.

RBC Foundation’s $650,0000 donation to Conestoga College will support the expansion of the Jill of All Trades program — a series of hands-on workshop events designed to introduce young women in Grades 9-12 to the potential of careers in the skilled trades such as automotive service, carpentry, masonry, welding, and electrical trades.

Wilfrid Laurier University will receive $850,000 to help fund research, teaching and experiential learning opportunities in the area of climate change management, to help prepare students for emerging careers in the ever-evolving climate industry.

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